The European Court of Human Rights has intervened to stop the first flight to Rwanda carrying asylum seekers who sought refuge in the UK last night.
Jessica Simor QC wrote on Twitter that the basis of the ruling was real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a “devastating blow to the government’s inhumane plans to deport refugees to Rwanda.”
Seven people were expected to be removed from the UK as part of the British government’s controversial asylum plan, but the flight was cancelled just before take-off.
Initially 130 people were scheduled to be on the flight, but the number was whittled down in the preceding days due to various legal challenges.
A former Iranian policeman who refused to shoot peaceful protesters was one of the people whose removal orders were scrapped early on.
In April Britain made a £120 million ($148 million) deal with Rwanda to send some refugees who crossed the English Channel to the UK in search of safety, to Rwanda where they would be processed.
The government warned that anyone who avoided being on the plane due to legal challenges would simply be scheduled for a later plane.
The UNHCR has said there is a risk Rwanda may send some asylum seekers back to their home countries as they do not have the capacity to process them.
Since the removal plan was announced there has been fierce opposition from politicians and charities, particularly over the human rights violations which take place in Rwanda, including the forcible disappearance and torture of government dissidents.
“Deporting refugees to Rwanda has *nothing* to do with tackling people-trafficking and *everything* to do with whipping-up hate and stoking division,” Labour MP Zarah Sultana wrote on Twitter after a protest outside the Home Office.
The ECHR ruling follows a decision by the UK High Court last Friday to throw out a legal challenge to the deportation plan made by two refugee charities and a trade union.
On Monday the Court of Appeal in London rejected another legal challenge.
Yet despite the immediate relief brought by the ECHR ruling, a cabinet minister has said the UK government is likely to challenge the last-minute intervention.
In a statement last night Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is “disappointed” today’s flight to Rwanda was cancelled but that preparations for the next one “begins now”.